Readers of either or both versions of John Fowles' The Magus frequently express discomfort in assessing the work. One finds the 1966 original edition too difficult, labeling it "pretentious and self-indulgent" (Allen 65). Moderating this position, another critic praises its intellectual power and thematic resolution, but then calls the latter a "partial failure" (Rubenstein 339). Others acknowledge the author's ambitiousness (Scholes 12), one describing the novel as a "brilliant puzzle" (Rackham 95). The 1978 revision, The Magus: A Revised Version, meets the same uneasy and uncertain reaction as did the earlier edition. According to one reader, "The essential opacity of the original novel has not been removed in the revised version, yet the latter is unquestionably superior to the original" (Wade 716). Another reader cannot see these "improvements" (Glasersfeld 444). And a third actually finds the new edition "not more polished or elegant than the earlier work … simply duller" (Lever 86).



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